NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman had some interesting info on Hideki Matsui in a recent post: http://www.npbtracker.com/2009/11/more-on-matsui/. Specifically, he states that "reports persist that the Angels could turn to Matsui if negotations with Vladimir Guerrero stall," citing an article published in Nikkan Sports, a Japanese sports newspaper: http://www.nikkansports.com/baseball/mlb/news/p-bb-tp2-20091112-565202.html. For those of you who don't read Japanese, I'll note a few things of interest from the article after the jump (though my Japanese ain't that great anymore):
The first half of the article talks about the chances of Matsui returning to the Yankees. Apparently Matsui asked Brian Cashman if he could return as an outfielder and was told no. Cashman is directly quoted as saying that if the Yankees do bring back Matsui, he would not play in the OF but would strictly be a DH. Cashman also is quoted as noting that he is aware that Yankee fans really want to bring Matsui back, but that the opinions of fans change all the time, and that it wouldn't influence his decision. The interesting thing for us Angels fans is that Tony Reagins is directly quoted in the article, saying "Even if he [Matsui] can't play in the outfield every game, [we] believe that he is a capable defender." [Though I have to think that something got lost in the translation and that Reagins probably said something more along the lines of believing that Matsui is capable of playing the outfield, though not every game - I doubt Tony thinks Matsui is a "capable" defender.] Reagins is also quoted as saying, "We'd like Vlad to stay, but we don't know what's going to happen in the future." The article goes on to say that the Angels would pursue Matsui if they can't bring back Vlad, and that playing for the Angels would be a great fit for Matsui given the Angels' winning ways and the warm SoCal weather being ideal for Matsui's aching knees.
Personally, I've always liked Matsui and would love to see him on the Angels next year. He hit .274/.367/.509 in 142 games this year, popping 28 homers with 64 walks (walking in 12.3% of his PAs) against 75 strikeouts. Obviously he does have some pretty major flaws, and we probably couldn't count on him playing LF much. But a lineup with Abreu and Matsui sure would make pitchers work...If Figgy isn't brought back, we could even have Abreu lead off, Izzy/Aybar/Kendrick bat second, and stick Matsui in the middle of the order. Thoughts?